Former prison officer saves historical B.C. Pen artifacts - in his home - InfoNews

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Former prison officer saves historical B.C. Pen artifacts - in his home

Prisoner art among the many B.C. Pen historical artefacts now on display at the Old Courthouse on Seymour Street.
May 21, 2013 - 7:29 AM

Kamloops is now privileged to have a piece of Canadian history after a former correctional officer salvaged historical artifacts from a shut-down federal prison and permanently loaned them to the Tournament Capital.

Anthony Martin worked at the federal maximum security prison B.C. Penitentiary New Westminster - commonly known as the B.C. Pen—from 1958 until it closed down in 1980.

After over 100 years in operation, Martin decided to save and store thousands of archival items from the prison - in his home.

"He picked those up and has been storing them in his home and garage and shed," said Dawn Hyrcun, executive director of the John Howard Society.

It's been over 30 years since the prison shut down and the historical items have finally left his home.

Martin donated the artifacts to the John Howard Society because of a friend on the board, and they're being permanently put on loan to the museum at the Old Courthouse on Seymour Street.

Hyrcun said it's appropriate to have the historical items displayed in Kamloops because of talk about the penitentiary moving to Kamloops at one time.

She also said it's a natural fit with the provincial correctional institution, the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, in town.

But ultimately, the salvaged pieces of history came to Kamloops because of Tony.

"This is his contribution," she said.

Among the documents, artwork and artifacts include wardens diaries and prisoner artwork.

Hyrcun said the acquisition has taken about 10 years with many stories to tell.

Multiple exhibits of these items are expected from the thousands of items - one of the first, called 'Behind Bars: Prisoner Artwork and Contemporary Art and Literature…', available to the public beginning today.

To contact a reporter for this story, email: or call (250) 319-7494.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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